Some call them toadstools, and they are surrounded by mystery and folklore tales. Mushrooms are a fungus that can grow very rapidly. They often have a cap, gills and stems, and they are fleshy. There are over 14,000 species of mushrooms described today. Here are some interesting facts about these unique organisms.
Fact 1: Some of the earliest domestically cultivated mushrooms were grown in French caves during the years of King Louis XIV rule in the late 1600s.
Fact 2: Portabella mushrooms are a great source of potassium which is necessary for good heart health. These mushrooms have more potassium than bananas.
Fact 3: Mushrooms are also an excellent source of the minerals selenium and copper.
Fact 4: The best way to keep mushrooms fresh is in a paper bag stored in the refrigerator.
Fact 5: Truffles are special mushrooms that grow underground and are considered a delicacy. They can cost up to $1,500 per pound. Truffles are found in the wild with the help of specially trained pigs or dogs.
Fact 6: Some mushrooms can be used as medicines and have antibiotic or antiviral properties. Studies are being done on the use of mushrooms to treat obsessive compulsive disorder and migraine headaches.
Fact 7: Some mushrooms are poisonous and can have mind-altering effects. Some can even be deadly. The psilocybin or psychedelic mushroom has been used in native ceremonies and rituals all over the world.
Fact 8: Colored mushrooms are used for dyeing wool or other fabrics.
Fact 9: The average person in the United States consumes over 4 pounds of mushrooms per year.
Fact 10: The largest organism alive on earth is the honey mushroom. It is covers and area of over 3.4 square miles. This giant mushroom is located in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and continues to grow today.